Province of Prince Albert: Ministry in the Archdiocese of Regina
ECHOES OF THE MISSION
OTHER DIOCESAN INITIATIVES
Friends on the Outside (FOTO)
FOTO is a non-profit prison ministry organization that was started in 1999. I have been involved since 2007. Being involved in prison ministry has been one of the greatest gifts in my life and has helped me journey through my own areas in life where I needed freedom. My favorite quote comes from an Australian Aboriginal woman named Lila Watson. “If you have come to help me, you’re wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound with mine, then let us work together!”
It sometimes easy to judge and think negatively of people in jail but I always try to see the child behind the person. What happened in that person’s life to bring them to this point behind bars? They are yearning for freedom….especially from the bars and chains around their heart. What did this little child experience growing up…poverty, violence, abuse, coping through various addictions? A lot of these things can lead to making unhealthy choices which often lead to crime. This cycle of unhealthy behavior is the only thing some of these kids have ever learnt. It helps create compassion when we understand where they are coming from or do we condemn someone forever because of mistakes/bad choices.
There does come a point in time in a persons’ life where they need to make positive and healthy choices in their life, being accountable for their actions, despite what has happened in the past. This is part of our aim. FOTO’s mission is to journey with inmates so that they can encounter a God of love, mercy and forgiveness, leading them to take responsibility for their actions, their lives so that they can live in inner freedom with dignity and respect.
While it’s true that we try to be the face, hands and heart of God (the Word made flesh), my experience has been that it’s actually Jesus that I meet through the inmates. That’s why Matthew 25 is our motto: “when I was hungry, thirsty, a stranger, sick and in prison you visited me.” Prison ministry is for me a Gospel mandate!
Here is a powerful story of one of our members of FOTO who passed away last year. His life and death has forever changed me! This was written by a friend Sheena Greer.